WIGAN Athletic had to battle until the last second to earn a point against a dominant Wolves side at Molineux.
The home side were on top for the majority of the game with Bakary Sako troubling Latics throughout.
Leon Barnett, standing in for injured captain Emmerson Boyce, and Ivan Ramis had to bat away cross after cross to keep Wigan in the game in the second half.
It was Latics who had a 2-1 lead at the break though, converting their only two real chances of the half through James Perch and Marc-Antoine Fortune. But it was that man Sako who equalised for Wolves with just over an hour gone on the clock.
In truth it was nothing less than they deserved on the balance of play and Kenny Jackett’s side have more than a fair argument to say they deserved the win.
But Latics defended superbly to keep them out and reduce them to mainly long-range efforts or half-chances from set-pieces.
The visitors did have their chances after half-time too with James McClean almost doubling their advantage on two occasions.
The start to the game was slow but Shaun Maloney almost gave Wigan a first minute lead with a curling shot that struck the post. However, the referee had spotted a handball in the build up.
Wolves started to grow into the game after the first quarter-of-an-hour with Sako proving to be a real threat; his power and pace really troubling Latics as he combined well with former Wigan player Nouha Dicko.
Sako’s first effort nearly cleared the bottom tier of the stand behind the goal but he did much better 10 minutes later when he dispossessed Perch in the Latics 18-yard box to help set up a Wolves corner that was cleared.
The home side remained well on top and deservedly took the lead with half-an-hour gone.
Rajiv van la Parra played a great ball into the area onto the head of a totally unmarked Dave Edwards who had a simple job to score the opener.
It was a lead that didn’t last long though as Wigan immediately pumped the ball forward. Fortune did well to beat his man on the edge of the Wolves area but was brought down by Richard Stearman.
Maloney then whipped in a great free-kick to Perch who headed in the equaliser
Wolves regained the pressure but failed to create anything of note and then – in first half stoppage time – Wigan took the lead.
It was another great ball into the box, this time whipped in by Andrew Taylor who was played in by Maloney, that found Fortune who stayed cool to fire Latics into a half-time lead.
Uwe Rosler’s side then came straight out looking for a third and could have had it twice through McClean. When Wolves ‘keeper Carl Ikeme spilled the ball, it was eventually crossed to the Irish winger but his weak header went over the bar.
After a sustained period of Wolves pressure, Latics attacked on the counter and McClean’s second chance resulted in his strike having to be deflected behind for a corner.
At the other end Sako continued to torment Latics, dispossessing William Kvist and firing into the side-netting before Carson came out well to save from the Malian international after he out-muscled Ramis.
His goal did eventually come 19 minutes into the second half though when a Wolves corner worked its way out to the striker who coolly slotted it into the bottom corner.
The home side continued to pile on the pressure in the last 20 minutes and will feel aggrieved not to have claimed the three points but Latics defended superbly to hang on.
Rosler did show signs that he didn’t want to settle with a point by throwing on Callum McManaman and Andy Delort but Wigan struggled to create anything more in the latter stages.
And were it not for man-mountain Ramis, they could have fallen behind but the Spaniard bravely threw himself in front of James Henry’s curling shot. The resulting corner then saw Matt Doherty head against the bar with three minutes left on the clock.
Wigan held on though and came away with a point with a performance that may not be have been a pretty but one they earned through grit and determination.
Wolves: Ikeme, Doherty, Golbourne, Edwards, Stearman, Batth, Sako, McDonald, Rowe, La Parra, Dicko
Subs: McCarey, Henry (for van La Parra 60), Saville, Clarke, Sagbo (for Dicko 90), Ebanks-Landell, Jacobs
Latics: Carson, Perch, Barnett, Ramis, Taylor, Kvist, Cowie, Huws, Maloney, McClean, Fortune
Subs: Al Habsi, Tavernier, Kiernan, Forshaw (for Kvist 57), McManaman (for McClean 85), Delort (for Fortune 74), Riera
FOR PICTURES AND REACTION SEE THE WIGAN EVENING POST (MONDAY)